Updated July 2nd 2019

So you want to start a freelance but you don’t know what business to start? Even worse is that you’re scared of looking for online opportunities because you’re afraid you have to spend money to make money⁠—money that you don’t have.

This is a very popular predicament. Lots of people in Africa want to go down the freelancing road but have no idea how to make money online without paying anything or how to get started.

We are still stuck in the era where freelancing is just something to keep yourself preoccupied as you wait for the ‘perfect’ job.

As a freelancer going onto my 6th year, I can tell you that it’s as ‘perfect’ a job as any other. You simply have to find what suits your skills and passions.

The good thing about freelancing is that you can start a business from your bedroom or anywhere else without much capital. Most of them simply require a laptop and a good internet connection.

And forget about academic writing and transcription, there is A LOT more that you can do depending on your skills, experience and interests. And, you can have more than one freelancing business if you want.

The quickest way to start a successful online freelance business is to take courses in the area of business that you settle on. This way, you get to learn from the experts and pick from their lessons.

For that reason, I have not only listed the best online freelancing businesses that you should explore, I’ve also included my recommendation for the best online courses for your consideration.

So without further ado, here are my top 33 easy ways to make money online without investment:

*This post may contain affiliate links to products. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links.

Related Posts:

How to Make Money Online Without Paying Anything

1. Social Media Manager

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

There are people who love social media and then there are those who LOVE social media. If you fall in the second category then I’m here to tell you that your addiction could earn you some pretty good money.

Social media is a growing area for businesses, entrepreneurs and even influencers. It’s also time-consuming and businesses are always looking to outsource the work to an expert.

If you love social media, have a creative and humorous side then you can take a few online classes and learn how to manage social media platforms for businesses. You can then earn a tidy sum helping companies run their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linked, Snapchat, and many other platforms.

As you get good at it you can add more high-paying related services such as Facebook Ad campaigns.

Recommended courses:

2. Blogging

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Blogging is still a popular source of income as many businesses have come to appreciate the power of content marketing. If you’re a good writer, there are lots of blogging opportunities that you can take advantage of and earn a decent freelance salary.

Starting your own blog is one of the (lowest cost) best business ideas you can start working on right now. Write about topics that interest you, then monetize your blog and earn some money from your blogs.

Recent blogging statistics show that tens of thousands of bloggers are running profitable blogs making six-figures thanks to a combination of affiliate marketing, blog sponsorships, Google ads and other revenue streams.

To speed up the process of launching your blog, I recommend setting up your blog using a reliable and affordable hosting company like Bluehost, choose a simple WordPress theme and work on your first post immediately.

If you use this BlueHost link to get the special discount price of $2.75 (Sh. 275) per month instead of $5 (Sh 500).

Recommended courses:

I recently put together a Quick & Easy Guide to Start a Blog that breaks down how to start a blog and ways you can implement immediately to make money blogging 👋.

3. Landing Page Specialist/Copywriter

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Do you have a way with words? Can you genuinely describe yourself as a wordsmith? Start creating landing pages for clients and start getting paid for it.

Landing pages, also referred to as sales pages or squeeze pages are web pages used to convert web visitors from prospective leads to customers. They have just one goal, to convince the web user to take the desired action.

Landing pages are so important that they pay way more than most other writing gigs. The better you are at convincing people to do what the client wants them to do the more you will get paid.

If you want to get a feel on how to make money online without paying anything as a landing page specialist or freelance copywriter, check out this awesome course on Udemy, Copywriting Secrets: How to Write Copy That Sells.

Recommended courses:

4. Freelance Writing & Copywriting

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

This is a good choice on how to make money online without investment. Every website owner (including myself) will at some point need the services of a copywriter to write content for their homepage, about me pages, FAQ’s, landing pages, or blog posts.

If writing is something that tickles your fancy learn how to become a freelance writer today and soon start getting clients who can pay you handsomely.

Freelance writing is my main hustle and has been since I joined the freelancing world and I can assure you that it’s a great way to make money and you can fully depend on it for all your money needs.

Recommended courses:

5. Ghost Writing

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

This is another perfect job for a good writer. With ghostwriting, you write content on behalf of someone else. This could be books, online courses, newsletters, blog posts, emails, recipes etc.

However, you don’t get any rights to the content. It all belongs to the person you’re writing for and will publish it under their name.

Recommended courses:

6. Magazine Article Writing

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Here’s another great avenue for anyone interested in how to make money online without paying anything.

There are so many magazines, both local and international, that will pay you to submit articles. If you especially have worked or are working as a journalist or writer, this will be easy to accomplish.

Here’s a list of over 100 publications that pay writers. Just check out the ones that cover topics that excite you or you’re well versed in, pitch an idea, and land a paid writing gig!

7. Online News Correspondent

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

A lot of the local news that you watch today is as a result of citizen journalism. You could be minding your own business and then something newsworthy happens. You unconsciously take a video and send it to a local station and becomes big news.

Well, how about doing this in a more permanent and professional way? You don’t need to have a degree in journalism to be a reporter and there are many international news websites that are always looking for help on getting local coverage.

Most of them, such as The Examiner or HuffPost, will compensate you for your article based on the amount of readership it generates.

If you’re a journalist you have higher chances of getting jobs from well paying international news outlets, such as AFP, to work for them as a local correspondent on a freelance basis.

To find work simply google “local news correspondents wanted” or something similar and send your application to the outlets you find.

8. Advert Copywriting

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Online advertising is big business. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google, businesses want to be found online.

For online ads to work, they need good copy. With a creative mind and good copywriting skills, you can earn some much-needed money writing ad content. Also, get familiar with popular business slang and industry jargon used online before you launch your business.

9. Google Ads Consulting

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Google advertising is pretty complex for most people. It’s a headache that most businesses will prefer to pass on to someone else.

If this is something that you’re interested in, you can get Google Adwords Certified free, and start offering your services as an expert to businesses.

Recommended courses:

10. Proofreading/Editing

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Have you been writing for a while now or your grammar is simply perfect and looking for ideas on how to make money online without paying anything? Start a proofreading business.

Good writers are always looking for people to edit their content to ensure that it’s perfect.

You can offer editing services and edit books, articles, research reports, news articles and so much more!

You can find lots of job postings from companies and individuals in need of writing, proofreading, and editing services making this a high-demand freelance business idea. The amount of money you earn will highly depend on the type of editing work you do.

11. SEO Services

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

People will normally pay attention to websites that appear on page one and two of Google search results. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) determines how well websites rank in search engines.

Learn the best SEO practices and start selling your services to businesses that want to increase their page ranking. You could offer keyword research services or offer to write SEO ready website content.

Recommended courses:

12. Affiliate Marketing

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Are you a writer and already have a blog? You probably felt that it’s a good idea to start a blog but you got sidetracked and stopped updating it or felt that it was too much work. Well here is a good idea to get back to blogging.

Affiliate marketing is an easy freelance business to start especially if you’re already blogging. Affiliate marketing involves promoting products and services on your blog through a personalized affiliate link. When people click on this link and make a purchase you get paid a commission. Sometimes you people don’t even need to pay as long as they click on the link.

Join reputable affiliate networks such as ShareASale, Rakuten, Clickbank, and Skimlinks to start making money from the content you’ve already produced. You can also check out this extensive list of 59 Best Affiliate Programs for Business Bloggers.

Recommended courses:

13. Teaching

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Are you a teacher looking for options on how to make extra money online without paying anything? Use your teaching skills to teach kids online.

By using video chat, you can teach kids anywhere in the world. You can teach a language, math, science or any other teachable skills.

14. Stock/Portrait Photography

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Do you love photography? Then you can easily start a photography business and turn your skills and passion into a profitable business idea.

Start with doing free shoots for friends and family to build up a strong online portfolio and perfect your skills.

To start making money, add your best photos to stock photo sites such as iStockPhoto, Unsplash, ShutterStock and earn royalty fees for every one of your photos purchased/downloaded.

You can also run your own online photography store and sell the photos directly. You will make more money this way, especially from private corporate work.

15. Photo Editing

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Online photo editing is another great gig for people who love photos, know how to use Photoshop and want to know how to make money online without paying anything.

People are always looking for someone to make all sorts of changes instead of buying their own photo editing software. Others simply don’t know how to do it. Look for such people.

Recommended courses:

16. Translation

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Do you love learning new languages? Can you already speak more than one language? Don’t look any further for ideas on how to earn money without investment. This a good source of income and you don’t need any money to get started.

If you speak any global language such as Spanish, French, Chinese, French, German and so on, you can look for translation work and translate content from English to other languages you speak.

Flexjobs has hundreds of freelance, remote translator jobs available right now. Check them out.

Duolingo offers free foreign language classes.

17. Graphic Design

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Graphic design is one of the skills that’s in constant high demand.

Businesses will always need logos, marketing materials such as brochures and business cards. They are also interested in online graphics such as infographics, memes and images.

While having a formal background in graphic design will definitely give you an edge, it’s relatively easy to learn the foundations of graphic design on your own.

Easy-to-use tools such as Adobe Illustrator, Stencil and Visme have made it possible for just about anyone with a bit of creativity, and motivation to practice graphic design and earn a side income.

Recommended courses:

18. WordPress Site Consulting

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

WordPress is a popular content management platform and most business owners (myself included) start building their online presence on WordPress-hosted website. The African Nomad is hosted on WordPress.

Take your time to learn how to start a blog then turn this newly earned skills into a very lucrative freelance business idea. Use your skills to create WordPress blogs for clients. Earn even more money—especially if you sign up for affiliate programs with companies

Website owners are always looking for ways to customize their sites. If you are good in web design and you are a WordPress expert, you can create useful WordPress plugins that businesses can buy to customize their sites.

19. Web Design

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Websites are one of the must-have marketing tools for businesses today making web designers very popular—which is why becoming a freelance web designer is one of the best freelance business ideas.

Web design is all about creating and maintaining websites. This includes the webpage layout, content production, and graphic design.

If you have an artistic eye you can easily learn web design through online courses such as Learn Web Design and Profitable Freelancing on Udemy. This course will teach you everything about web design from scratch and equip you with the skills you need to earn your first freelance income as a web designer.

Recommended courses:

20. Programming

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Programming is one of the highest paying freelance jobs but not so many people venture into it. If you love numbers and computers, you can easily teach yourself how to code and develop software that you can sell and make tons of money.

Recommended courses:

21. Develop an App

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

I swear there’s an app for everything! Yet, there’s still so much more that could use an app. If you’re a techie looking to earn some extra cash consider starting a side business developing apps.

Look around for a niche that is yet to be flooded and create your own app for it. Remember to validate your app idea, confirm there’s actually a market for it before you get too involved.

You can sell your app on the App Store or Play Store. You can also sell your app on Facebook using Facebook Ads.

Recommended courses:

22. Virtual Assistant Work

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

This is another great avenue for anyone interested in how to make money online without paying anything.

There’s a lot of administrative work that goes into running a successful business. Most soloprenuers don’t have the time to do everything and will appreciate any help they can get.

Virtual Assistants (VAs) take on tasks including email management, customer support, invoice management, accounting, social media management, copywriting, data entry, research and so much more. VA jobs are a great way to start your freelancing career.

Check out my in-depth post on How To Become a Virtual Assistant When You Have Zero Experience.

Recommended courses:

23. Podcast Production

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Podcasts are becoming more popular as videos are now more preferred than text. Businesses are running podcasts as a way to build trust and generate business leads.

As a freelance podcast producer, you can earn money writing and editing scripts or even assisting the client to manage comments during a live podcast.

Better yet, you could start your own Podcast if you believe you have something valuable to share with the world. With enough fans you could soon start making affiliate income through adverts, and sponsored episodes by both big and small brands or even individuals.

24. Video Editing

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Video editing is one of the most popular skills around the world. If you took a video editing course in college you could very well start earning some money editing videos as a side hustle.

Video content is now the most popular content online creating huge demand for this skill. If you don’t have any video production and editing skills, worry not, you can take an online course get started in no time.

Recommended courses:

25. Music Writing/ Coach

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Surprised right?! Yes, you can make money writing music. With so much competition for online jobs, going against the norm will increase your chances of getting more gigs. Music writing is one of the less explored jobs.

If you’re a skilled creative writer or even a musician, you can start creating songs for advertising agencies and get paid for doing something you enjoy. There are also clients who would rather use original music for their marketing videos so you can target such clients.

Some people also want to learn how to sing or play an instrument and are looking for someone to coach them online at their own convenience. Our very own Mercy Opande, the first winner of the popular singing competition ‘I Can Sing’, offers music coaching services to people all over the world from the comfort of her home studio!

Private music instructors earn an upwards of $20-100/hr or even more depending upon skill and experience.

You can also sell your music on popular micro-stock sites such as MotionElements and ShutterStock or the freelance services marketplace, Fiverr.

26. Voice Acting

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Here’s another unexplored skilled. Remember how the Safaricom ‘Mteja hapatikani’ lady got famous? If you have a lovely voice too you can use it to make a living doing voice overs.

You don’t have to go to huge companies such as telecommunications. Consider doing an audio narration for a book or business reports, voice-overs for local adverts and more.

You can sell your voice acting services any time on Fiverr, Upwork and other freelance sites. You can earn up to $72/hour!

27. Travel Consulting

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Still struggling to come up with a solid plan on how to make money online without paying anything? This could be it.

Do you love travelling and exploring your surroundings? Are you an avid traveller? Turn that experience into money.

Once you get on the road and learn a few things, you can turn your love for travel into a money-making business as a travel agent. For a small fee, you can help people plan and book their trips.

Start with helping out your friends and family members with your travel plans. I recently planned a girls’ trip to Europe for my girls’ club and we had such an AMAZING time. The girls trusted me with the plans they know my love for travel and they have seen me do my own trips successfully. So start with people who know you and then ask them to refer you to other people.

28. Accounting

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Are you familiar with Quickbooks? This is a skill that could earn you some extra money! With this skill, you can help clients track and manage their finances.

If you’re also aware of how tax laws and filing tax works (June is always around the corner Kenyans 😉 ) that will earn you even more money.

There are so many small businesses as well as individuals who need help with their finances and are more than willing to outsource this task to a freelance accountant and bookkeeper instead of hiring in-house.

Recommended courses:

29. Tour Guiding

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Africa is a very popular tourist destination. We have tourists all year round. Now if you’re familiar with any local area you can start a freelance business as a professional tour guide and show visitors around the area.

You easily get started by becoming an Airbnb Experiences host. All you need is to create a unique experience and offer it on the Airbnb website. With Airbnb Experiences connect guests with unique people, places, and activities that guests couldn’t typically find on their own.

Doesn’t this seem like the perfect combination of travel and work? Seriously, consider it!

30. Write and Sell eBooks

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Jump into the freelance business world by learning how to earn money online without paying anything and start earning by writing and selling eBooks.

You may not know it but if you take a second and think about it you may realise that you’re actually quite good at something. How about you start making money from whatever it is that you’re good at?

It could be a service such as managing finances, copywriting or a craft such as making DIYs. package that skill and knowledge into a downloadable eBook that delivers value to people looking to learn that particular skill.

Put in some serious work in your eBook, target the right audience and you could be making money from the book for years to come⁠—as long as it remains relevant.

If you’d rather skip the writing part you can buy already written eBooks at a wholesale price and sell them at a profit.

31. Become a Coach or Mentor

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

If you have something you’re skilled at and very passionate about, you can start making money by offering one-on-one online coaching. There are lots of people willing to take online classes within their own schedules guided by a coach.

Check out this course on Udemy on how to develop a successful online coaching business from scratch.

Recommended courses:

Online Coach Certificate: Profitable Business in 7 Days only

32. Online Courses

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, turn what you’re already good at into a moneymaker. If you can call yourself an expert in something, there’s a chance people are willing to pay to become an expert in that field—just like you.

If you want to take your skills and turn them into an online course that teaches others how to get the same results you’ve achieved in your life, career, or business, start with Learn How to Create an Awesome Online Course on Udemy and start teaching people how to get the same results you’ve achieved in your life, career, or business.

This is actually what I’m doing with my blog, teaching others to be freelancers like me. Now I just need to start charging you guys 😉

33. Teach DIYs

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Another good idea on how to earn money from home without any investment is to turn your passion into an income stream by teaching DIYs. There are people who are quite good with crafts.

If you’re one of those people who can easily turn an old t-shirt into a fashion statement bag, then you have a moneymaker lying in silent.

Have you seen the dedicated ladies who teach people how to make shaggy mats? Take a cue from them and start teaching people your craft, you never know there could be other people just waiting for someone to teach them.

There are dozens of DIY portals (such as DIY.org, DIY Network, Instructables and Mahalo) that you can use to earn a healthy income just by showing others how to do the things you love.

I have been freelancing for over 4 years now and I have been able to make a decent living combing a few of the above jobs.

I offer social media management services, I’m a virtual assistant, a blogger, ghostwriter and article writer. I’m also learning Spanish and hoping that by the end of the year I will add English/Spanish translation to my list of services. I’ve also been seriously considering being a tour guide because, hey travel is my main passion and it would be nice to get paid to do it :).

So, if I’m anything to go by, starting a successful freelance business is quite possible. The list of services that you can offer is simply endless. All you need is a passion, discipline and the will to do it.

Are you running another type of freelance business that I missed? Let me know in the comments.


how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi